There’s something quite romantic about having the freedom to drive wherever the open road takes you. If you’ve always liked the idea of owning a motorhome and using it to enjoy quirky road trips across the country – and even overseas – it’s important that you’re well aware of all there is to know about owning and buying motorhomes. After all, it’s a sizeable investment, so you’ll want to make sure you are making the best choice for your holiday hopes and wishes.
Within this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of buying new and second-hand motorhomes, the accessories you’ll need to buy for your motorhome and other practicalities about life on the road with your motorhome.
What are the key differences between a motorhome and a campervan?
Let’s deal with this frequently asked question first and foremost. It’s not just a terminology thing; motorhomes and campervans are very different, in terms of both performance and available space inside the vehicles.
While a campervan is more of a stripped-back experience, with almost the entirety of the seating space converting into a double bed and very limited cooking facilities, a motorhome is built to house separate sleeping accommodation, as well as a shower room and toilet and better-equipped kitchen space.
Furthermore, in a motorhome, the driver’s compartment is designed to be entirely separate from the living space. That’s unlike a campervan where the interior is all one area – the driver’s compartment and the passenger seating-cum-sleeping area. If you’re a young, mobile couple, a campervan may suffice, but if you’re slightly older or have a growing family to think of, a motorhome will give you all some extra breathing space on your travels.
What is the average price of a motorhome?
It’s not easy to provide a definitive answer to this question, given that the difference in value between new and used motorhomes differs so significantly. Let’s take a look at the various price brackets and see what motorhome buyers typically get for their hard-earned cash:
The typical cost of new motorhomes
It might surprise you to hear that some brand-new motorhomes can cost just as much as a bricks-and-mortar starter home. At the most basic level, some new, two-berth motorhomes may cost in the region of £45,000-£50,000 to buy outright.
However, you’re looking at upwards of £100,000 for new motorhomes designed to comfortably house four or more people. It’s also important to remember that the more people you wish to house in your new motorhome, the heavier the vehicle will be, something we’ll look at in more detail later.
The typical cost of used motorhomes
If you have around £20,000 to spend on a second-hand motorhome, you should be able to get your hands on a reliable, good-quality motorhome that’s been well looked after by its previous owners. If you can stretch your budget north of £30,000, you can be sure of getting a used motorhome with more mod-cons that might make life on the road that little bit easier.
Choosing between new or used motorhomes
Pros of buying new motorhomes
- Secure a new motorhome that can be customised and tailored to your exact requirements e.g. choice of internal equipment, driving aids or vehicle trim.
- You’re buying a motorhome with an engine that has no miles on the clock.
- Brand-new motorhomes will have lengthy warranties, giving you valuable cover if the worst happens.
- Some people just like that shiny new vehicle look and the smell of a brand-new model.
Pros of buying used motorhomes
- If you are solely price-led, you can pick up a second-hand motorhome for a fraction of the price of a brand-new model.
- Try not to get too caught up on mileage for used motorhomes – engines are so reliable and efficient these days that high mileage isn’t necessarily a big deal. Most of these miles have probably been clocked up in fifth gear on motorways!
- Don’t worry too much about not having a dealership warranty. A comprehensive motorhome insurance policy should cover reliability issues and get your vehicle back on the road.
How much do new motorhomes depreciate in value?
Compared with a conventional family car, motorhomes don’t depreciate nearly as much as a road car. Practical Motorhome compared a road vehicle that is typically resistant to depreciation – the BMW 520d – which would have cost £34,795 to buy brand new in 2014. Three years later, it retained just 47% of its value. In car terms, this is very good. However, in the motorhome market this would be considered a disastrous loss of money.
Typically, new motorhomes will retain 70% of their new value after three years of use.
What are the best motorhome brands for the money?
If you want to know the most popular mobile home brands among new and used owners, take a look at the following vehicle manufacturers:
This UK manufacturer has been making motorhomes since 1961 from its base in Worcestershire. Specialising in Mercedes and Peugeot motorhomes, these models offer impeccable interiors and high-end driver aids for long-distance trips.
The leading German motorhome brand, Hymer’s recreational vehicles have been some of the most popular in Europe, most notably the Hymermobil which has been produced since the 1970’s.
Another leading British motorhome manufacturer, Auto-Trail offers some of the finest luxury recreational vehicles that offer superior innovation and comfort for regular use.
Burstner is part of the Erwin Hymer Group and delivers some of the finest mobile homes for couples and families across the UK and mainland Europe.
Concorde is Germany’s luxury motorhome manufacturer, having been successfully developing and designing premium-quality mobile homes for more than 35 years. Concorde’s motorhomes are more like conventional RV’s that you would see on the open road in North America.
What accessories do you need for a motorhome?
Looking for a genuine home-from-home experience during your travels in your motorhome? Then use the following checklist as a starting point for must-have motorhome accessories:
- Fold-up outdoor furniture
Perfect for soaking up the summer sunshine outside and enjoying the nearby scenery. Fold-up furniture that can collapse for easy storage is highly valuable.
- Motorhome awning
Similarly, a motorhome awning can create much needed outside space, regardless of whether it is wet and windy. These awnings help to prevent cabin fever inside your motorhome.
- Dash cam
These are very useful for recording your long road trips and any subsequent incidents you may be involved in along the way, offering evidence to your motorhome insurance provider.
- Satellite TV
There are plenty of mini satellite dishes and aerials that you can now buy for mobile homes. A 60cm dish should be adequate for picking up Sky TV in the UK, but an 80cm dish may be preferable if travelling in mainland Europe.
- Kitchen equipment
Make sure you have plenty of saucepans, frying pans, plates, cups, cutlery and glasses to enjoy all your favourite food and drink on the road.
- Wi-Fi booster
Keen to keep in contact with family and friends? Buy a Wi-Fi signal booster to make Skype and WhatsApp calls as easy as dialling on the landline.
- Portable barbecue
Because you don’t want to cook inside your motorhome every day, a portable barbecue is great for griddling meat, fish and fresh vegetables that you might source from the local area.
Do you need a TV licence for a motorhome?
If you want to watch or record any television programmes as they’re being broadcast live or streamed live via an online service, you will require a TV licence. If the television you use in your motorhome is the only television you have then a TV licence is essential.
Since late 2016, BBC has made it compulsory to have a TV licence to watch programmes streamed live or downloaded via its iPlayer platform.
You can register your TV licence using the registration number of your mobile home.
How fuel efficient are motorhomes?
One of the biggest topics of conversation about motorhomes is fuel efficiency. You’ll need to factor in fuel consumption into your holiday budget each time you travel. Take a look at the typical average miles per gallon below based on the different size of recreational vehicles available:
It goes without saying that the larger and heavier the motorhome, the lower the mpg will be. You’ll also have to take into account other factors, such as the terrain you will be driving on and whether or not you’ll be towing additional accessories or vehicles.
There is no specific legislation in the UK that says it’s illegal to sleep in your motorhome when parked on the roadside. Where it gets a little trickier is parking in car parks overnight. Most car parks operated by local authorities will prevent the use of their car parks for camping, sleeping and cooking.
It’s therefore always best to park your motorhome overnight at ‘approved stopovers’. You’ll also be able to meet and socialise with like-minded people this way.
Do you need a special driving licence to drive a motorhome?
If you’re planning on buying a motorhome that weighs no more than 7.5 tonnes and you passed your driving test prior to January 1997, you do not require a special driving licence.
If you passed your driving test after January 1997, your UK driving licence will restrict you to driving motorhomes that weigh no more than 3.5 tonnes. If you have your heart set on a fully-fledged RV, you will be required to undertake an LGV driving test before motorhome insurers will consider your licence to be valid.
Motorhomes and speed limits: What you need to know
- Mobile homes that have a maximum unladen weight of 3.05 tonnes may travel up to 70 miles per hour on dual carriageways and motorways.
- Mobile homes that have a maximum unladen weight of more than 3.05 tonnes are restricted to driving at no more than 60 miles per hour on dual carriageways and motorways.
Ultimately, when choosing the type of motorhome you wish to purchase, you should take into consideration its size and weight and decide whether you are happy to travel a little slower to gain additional living space inside your vehicle.
Are motorhomes expensive to service?
If your goal is to incorporate annual maintenance costs into your motorhome budget, it’s a good idea to budget between £250 and £500 for annual servicing of your mobile home. It will naturally cost more to service and maintain a motorhome than a campervan, but it’s worth every penny for peace of mind on your travels around the continent.
It’s also important to note that some motorhome models are harder to service than others. Recreational vehicles with A-class bodies can be harder for engineers to reach, taking them more time to service, resulting in more expensive labour costs.
Is motorhome insurance readily available?
For some people, owning a motorhome is a blissful way of life – a chance to head out on unforgettable adventures and make memories that will last a lifetime. A motorhome is so much more than a bed on wheels. Therefore, it’s important that you protect your significant investment in your holiday and leisure time with adequate motorhome insurance.
Wherever you are in the UK, mainland Europe or beyond, you’ll want to have the safety blanket of a comprehensive motorhome insurance policy that protects you in case the unexpected happens.
Some of the best motorhome insurance providers will now offer UK motorhome owners unlimited cover for travel across all countries that are Member States of the European Union (EU). They should also cover you for loss of personal belongings and offer cover for unlimited mileage so that you aren’t constrained in your motorhome usage whatsoever.
At Motorhome Protect, we can arrange specialist motorhome insurance cover that provides genuine peace of mind, whether you are at home or travelling the world.
Get a competitive motorhome insurance quote from Motorhome Protect today that safeguards your vehicle and its precious contents – wherever the road takes you.